Schwartz continuing improvement process

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Coaches talk about improving their players almost daily, an oft-used cliche that never seems to go away. In every sport, this has gone the same way. Improve, improve, improve.

So as part of a conversation about Jim Schwartz’s future on Tuesday afternoon, he was asked bluntly where he can most improve as a coach, where he can still get better after almost five full seasons running the Detroit Lions.

“I wouldn’t put it on any one thing,” Schwartz said. “We talked about the quarterback (Matthew Stafford) before. Every player goes through it. Every coach goes through it. Every time you do anything, whether it’s training camp, practice, whether it’s a game, you always evaluate and saying what you did well, what you can improve on and ways to improve it.

“That’s a continuing process for me and for all our coaches and for all our players. I’ll leave that up to you guys to talk about.”

OK, we will.

If there is one thing that stands out about the past two seasons under Schwartz, it is how the Lions have faded both years. The Lions lost eight straight games to close out the 2012 season.

This season, they have lost four of the past five games and in every game they had fourth-quarter leads that disappeared on them and they weren’t able to really reclaim.

“You say that and there has also been times where we’ve come back and won,” Schwartz said. “It hasn’t been in the second half of the season, but it’s been over the course of our season.

“I don’t know that it’s something that we can’t overcome or something that is part of the personality of the team, whatever it is, we’ve just been in a slump, so to speak, when it comes to playing that fourth quarter.”

Schwartz was referring to fourth quarters of games this season, but he could have expanded that to the final four games of seasons during a lot of his tenure. The Lions have lost nine straight games in December and January, dating back to winning three of their final four games in 2011 to make the NFC playoffs.

And the most baffling thing for Detroit is many of the Lions' issues haven’t changed throughout the season. The Lions are still committing turnovers at a massive pace -- 19 over the past six games and are now second to only the Giants in turnovers this season -- and are still among the league leaders in penalties.

The Lions are tied with the Rams for the most defensive penalties in the NFL with 48 and ninth overall with 95. So there are still issues there, and still areas that need to be fixed.

And still clear areas for improvement. For both the Lions and their head coach, Schwartz. The question is how much longer will he and this current group of the Lions have to fix those up.